Creating a COVID-19 vaccine standby list

February 23, 2021
Written by
Jeff Eiden

Vaccine Standby List.png

A new Quick Deploy app to quickly launch a COVID-19 vaccine standby list is now available for public health agencies. Deploy the template here.

COVID-19 vaccine production is ramping up globally, a cause for new optimism in the global fight to end the pandemic. However, significant distribution challenges remain. Currently, vaccine supply is limited, so health agencies and medical centers face difficult decisions about who gets prioritized for vaccination — each with their own allocation formulas that are evolving in real-time. Meanwhile, many residents are eager to understand when they will become eligible to make an appointment for the vaccine. To ensure a successful and equitable rollout, the ability for health agencies to directly engage with their residents is critical.

The City of San Francisco, recognizing this challenge, moved quickly to launch a digital vaccine standby list for its residents, with SMS messaging powered by Twilio. This app allows people to get notified on a preferred channel as soon as they are eligible to schedule their first vaccine appointment. As part of registering, an individual is asked for demographic information that helps the city prioritize residents for vaccination in accordance with city, state and federal guidelines. In addition, when there are surplus doses available, this standby list is an effective tool in eliminating wasted vaccines by quickly mobilizing eligible recipients.

To enable more organizations and public agencies to quickly launch COVID-19 vaccine standby lists, is providing a new Quick Deploy App for rapid prototyping with zero coding required. Deploy the template here.

What is the vaccine standby list Quick Deploy app?

The Quick Deploy app enables any public health agency to create a proof-of-concept of a COVID-19 vaccine standby list program with a few clicks. Through this app, residents can send a text message to a phone number and answer a series of questions to determine when they are eligible to receive their first dose of the vaccine. By registering for the digital standby list, residents can also opt into receiving a notification when they become eligible for the vaccine.

Vaccine standby list architecture diagram

Due to its ubiquity, SMS is a valuable channel for both registering and notifying residents about vaccine eligibility. SMS doesn’t require an internet connection and text messaging apps are standard on both smartphones and feature phones. That means that SMS helps to cross the digital divide and make vaccinations available to more people.

Residents who text into the app are asked to respond to basic questions that were informed by the CDC’s vaccine rollout guidelines. Example questions include: “Are you considered an essential worker?”, “Do you have an underlying health condition that increases risk of severe COVID-19 infection?”, and “Do you live in a long term care facility?” The conversational chatbot template is managed by Studio — Twilio’s drag-and-drop communications builder — and every interaction is fully editable to the unique information that different health agencies would like to collect.

Demonstration of Studio to vaccine standby output

After completing the SMS form, all vaccine requests are stored in the Twilio Studio logs for easy review and prioritization. When using the app, the recorded resident data will be displayed in-real time on a table. The Quick Deploy app can be easily extended to integrate with your preferred database by editing the Studio Flow.

Note that organizations that are covered entities and subject to HIPAA should consult with a Twilio Expert before publicly offering this service in a production context. Business Associate Addendums (BAA) are available from Twilio for the offerings shown in this solution.

Using the information provided through the app, public health agencies can prioritize and communicate with residents when additional vaccine doses become available. Because each person has answered questions about their job, their health, and their living situation, agencies will have access to the data they need to prioritize outreach according to the most updated federal, state, or local guidelines on eligibility. To facilitate effective resident outreach when someone is eligible for the vaccine, the Studio Flow also collects each person’s preferred channel — SMS or email.

Vaccine standby list example

The vaccine standby list template can be deployed and customized with no coding required. It is an example of a Quick Deploy App available on Twilio’s Code Exchange, designed for builders of all kinds to launch instantly-working Twilio apps with just a few clicks.

San Francisco’s standby program leading the way

The City of San Francisco, California launched its Twilio-powered vaccine notification program in late January. People who live or work in San Francisco can sign up to receive notifications via SMS when they become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in accordance with state and local guidelines.

San Francisco example vaccine standby list

The City of San Francisco is using Twilio to send confirmations via SMS to those that complete the registration process. Then, once the person becomes eligible to receive their first dose, the city will send an SMS notification to that same phone number to let them know it is their turn.

San Francisco’s program is one of the first of its kind to be launched in the U.S. — and many more are needed as vaccine administration is largely managed at the regional and local levels. Public health agencies interested in creating their own vaccine standby list program can use Twilio’s Quick Deploy app to rapidly prototype their own solution.

We’re here to help in the COVID-19 mass vaccination campaign

If you are a public health agency interested in creating your own vaccine standby list for your community — or any other COVID-19 program — please reach out to us. Our hope is that this Quick Deploy app will help accelerate the development and deployment of solutions that contribute to the ongoing mass vaccination efforts.

We are also interested in hearing about what you are building to help accelerate the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as what more we as Twilio can be doing to help. If you have ideas on other templates that would be useful, we’d like to know! You can find us on Twitter, @TwilioDotOrg.